Bulldogs claim first area win over Luverne

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Sports Writer

LUVERNE – Reggie Griffin hit a three pointer with 2:20 left to play in the game as the Pike County High School Bulldogs overcame a 12 point deficit to earn a hard fought 53-51 come from behind victory over the Luverne High School Tigers in the Class 3A Area 2 opener for both teams Monday night.

Griffin’s long range bomb came after Tyrone Boyd stole a pass on the near sideline which forced Luverne into a turnover. The Bulldogs worked the ball inside and outside turning the Luverne 2-3 zone over as Griffin hit his second three pointer of the evening to give Pike County a 51-49 lead.

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After a wild exchange of turnovers, Shermondre Jackson hit a short turnaround jumper in the paint to extend the Pike County lead to 53-49 with 1:45 remaining. Luverne’s J.J. McCreary followed with a jumper of his own cutting the deficit to two points with 1:15 left setting up the dramatic final stages of the game.

Following an exchange of great defensive sequences by both team which included a steal by Marquez Foster, the Tigers had one final try to tie the game or send it to overtime after calling timeout with 11.7 seconds left in the game. After McCreary missed a 15 footer, Gentonne Carter grabbed the rebound and missed a turnaround jumper with teams scrambling for the rebound as time expired giving the Bulldogs an important area road victory.

The game started out as if the outcome wasn’t going to be decided until the final possession. Neither team was able to gain control early as the Tigers settled for a 15-10 lead after the opening quarter of play. Luverne ended the opening stanza

by going on a 8-2 run.

On the first possession of the second quarter, the Bulldogs earned a rare four point play on a made basket by Sam Diggs, a missed free throw a layup by Armond Johnson to cut the lead to 15-14 with 7:00 remaining in the first half. However, the Tigers went on a 10-0 run over a four minute span to take a commanding 25-14 lead with 2:30 remaining in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs, however, managed to trim the lead to nine points at 29-20 going into intermission thanks to a pair of made shots by Jackson.

At the start of the second half, things looked bleak for the Bulldogs as the Tigers’ Brad Crittenden opened the third quarter with a three pointer to give Luverne a 32-20 lead with 7:30 remaining in the period. That’s when the Bulldogs’ head coach David Buehler switched from their customary 2-3 zone to a man-to-man. Buehler’s move paid off as the Bulldogs outscored the Tigers 15-8 in the 7 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 40-35 heading into the final period.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs (2-4, 1-0) got a scare when Boyd fell awkardly on his back while completing a fast break to cut the Luverne lead to 44-42 with 5;42 remaining. Boyd, however, did return to the game and he was expected to have his back examined Tuesday. Pike County continued to chip away as Diggs’ layup tied the game at 44-44 with 5:19 left in the game.

The Tigers (2-3, 0-1) momentarily regained the momentum taking a 47-44 lead on a three pointer by Cooper before the Bulldogs cut the deficit to one point setting up the final 2:20 of the contest.

After starting out playing a tough early schedule which included 2A power Goshen, ’99 5A state champion Eufaula and 6A member Dothan, Buehler said he was thrilled with the win.

"We needed to have a win," Buehler said. "We’ve played some really tough competition and when it came to the area, he had to get a win. Every place is different, so I’ll take it especially after a tough loss to Goshen. Our man-to-man put us back into it. If we couldn’t play man, we would have lost."

Jackson led all scorers with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Boyd finished the game scoring 12 points and four rebounding. Marquez Foster scored seven points, while Griffin had six points on a pair of important three pointers.

McCreary led Luverne with 16 points and five rebounds, while Cooper finished scoring 15 points in a losing cause.

Pike County (girls) 32 Luverne 29

In girls’ action, Wennica Foster scored six points in the fourth quarter as the Pike County Lady Bulldogs held on to defeat the Luverne Lady Tigers 32-29 in the area opener for both teams Monday night.

The game was tight throughout as neither team led by more than four points throughout the contest. However, the Lady Bulldogs were able to step up, making the key shots in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to prevail against the Lady Tigers (1-4, 0-1).

Trailing 25-24 with

six minutes remaining in the game, Foster grabbed a missed shot and converted to begin a decisive 8-4 run to help win the game for the Lady Bulldogs (3-4, 1-0 in area play).

Molley Boykin led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 12 points, while Foster finished with nine points.

Pike County returns to action this Thursday night when they travel to Wetumpka at 5 p.m., while Luverne hosts the Southeast Alabama Conference Tournament. The tournament, which includes Goshen, begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.